Back pain is linked to Weight gain. According to the recent studies, overweight and obesity increase the risk of low back pain.
1 pound of weight gain causes 4 pounds of pressure on your spine
What do we mean by weight gain?
Weight gain simply means that we have put on some weight more than what is expected for our height. But there are 3 main reasons for this:
1) Increase in the bulk of our muscles:
This is a good thing.
As we exercise, our muscle bulk increases in size. This increase in muscle bulk increases our body weight – naturally. It is a very healthy way to gain weight.
2) Amount of fat in various parts of our body:
As age advances and due to lack of exercise, our muscle bulk shrinks. The space around our muslces are filled with fat. This is not healthy.
3) Excess fluid causing water retention:
Medical conditions like heart failure, liver failure and kidney failure cause fluids to stay inside our body. Fluid is heavy as compared to fat and muscle.
Not a healthy way to gain weight.
Do you know just a pound of flesh has a lot of energy – about 3,500 calories. So to lose a pound of weight, we must reduce 3,500 Calories of energy coming from our food!
What do we do?
It’s simple. We can reduce our food intake just by 500 calories a day! This iver 7 days will make up to 3,500 calories.
First, we must identify the type of food that contains 500 calories. Here are a few examples:
1) Big Mac
2) 4 slices of Bacon
3) Frappuccino with cream
4) Subway 6″ Ham sandwich
5) Full cheese Burger
6) 2 Snickers
So, you can easily put on weight by adding one of this to your diet everyday. In a course of a week, you will add up to 3,500 calories – this is a pound in weight gain.
REMEMBER – 1 pound of weight gain puts 4 pounds of extra pressure on our spine!
This significantly increases the risk of lower back pain
How do we know that we have gained weight?
Scientists are very clever
They have come up with a way to measure our weight in relation to our height. We end up with a number. This number will tell us how much weight we gained and the risk of back pain.
This is called Body Mass Index (BMI)
Your Body weight in kilograms is divided by your weight by your height in metres
If your BMI is:
18 – 25 – Shows a Normal & Healthy weight
25 – 30 – Overweight at risk of Back problems
30 – Obesity – Back pain & Degeneration
How does Weight gain affect your Back pain?
As you can see here, our spine is this central support for our body to provide strength, flexibility and movement.
Our spine has three natural curves that are in balance to distribute your body weight. This provides perfect alignment with the strong and flexible muscles in your back.
During the later years there is a gradual weight increase and the shape of these natural curves are altered. It is important to note that any increase in weight in the belly fat, adds 10 times the weight on your back.
1 extra pound on your abdomen, puts an additional 10-pound strain on your back!
Can belly fat make your back hurt?
Yes, belly fat can certainly make your back hurt
The main cause of your back problem is IN YOUR FRONT not in your back
The muscles and fat around your belly are right in front of your back
About Belly Fat:
Belly fat causes potbelly and this changes the curvature of your back. Belly fat pulls your spine forward causing stress on the bones, muscles, ligaments and the soft cushions (discs). Belly fat that sticks out farther away from the spine can cause severe strain on joints of your back.
This can lead to osteoarthritis of your spine reports a study from the University Hospital Zurich in Switzerland.
“Further your belly sticks out greater your back pain”
What are the other problems with weight gain other than back pain?
1) Facet joint inflammation:
When your body weight increases, the spine becomes tilted and develops an unnatural curve. There is more stress on the small joints of your spine call the ‘facet joints’.
2) Arthritis of the Spine:
The chemicals released from the excess body fat, damages the lining of these facet joints leading to inflammation and later arthritis.
3) Disc Degeneration:
Further increase in bodyweight squeezes the soft tissue cushions (discs) between the bones of your spine. The disc is thinned out and loses height due to loss of water and wear & tear
Discs become inflamed, loses water and undergoes “wear and tear” changes. The disc appear as a ‘Black Disc’ on the MRI scans. This is called “Disc Degeneration”
4) Disc Bulge, Disc Prolapse or Herniated Disc
All these terms mean the same.
Overweight and obesity can cause the disc to rupture. This causes a ‘Disc Prolapse’ or a ‘Bulging Disc’. They cause pressure on the spinal nerves going to the leg.
This leads to back pain and leg pain called sciatica
How to lose weight during an episode of back pain?
As we know, excess weight is the cause of your back problem. Therefore, exercise and losing weight will help you in relieving low back pain. Weight loss requires you to take lesser calories and make small healthy changes in your diet.
Take small tiny steps and be comfortable in what you are doing.
There are simple two ways to lose weight that cause back problems:
1) Reducing your Calorie intake:
Step 1: Watch for unhealthy eating patterns. A 500 calorie excess intake over a period of 7 days in a week adds 3,500 calories. This equals to a weight gain of 1 pound.
Unhealthy eating habits are binge eating, eating at frequent intervals, comfort foods and eating out regularly.
A food diary is very useful in noting down these unhealthy eating habits.
Step 2: Try and see if you can make small changes in your diet. If you’re eating out five days a week, try changing and reducing it to 2 to 3 days a week.
Step 3: Try to reduce calories that do not give you the necessary nutrients for the growth and well-being. These include candies, soft drinks, sugary drinks and most fast foods.
2) Regular Exercises:
Step 1: Choose a low impact exercise like walking or water exercises. Exercises makes all the muscles in your body to work and there is a good calorie burn.
Exercise also improves the tone of all your muscles.
Your daily routines DO NOT use all your muscles.
Step 2: Weight loss requires at least 60 to 90 minutes of cardiovascular exercise each day for a good result.
Break your exercises into small bits – 10 minute walk following breakfast lunch and dinner.
Step 3: Consider Physiotherapy exercises for low back pain. These are small simple exercises that can be done in the initial stages of your back pain.
They do not pose any risk of aggravating your back pain.
What we know:
1 pound of weight gain can cause 4 pounds the effect on your spine
It is 10 times the effect on your spine for ‘Belly Fat’
Weight gain also causes ‘Disc Degeneration’ and ‘Sciatica’
Aim for a healthy and rich life style free of Back pain
Your ‘daily routine’ DOES NOT use all your muscles
Exercises uses ALL your muscles.
Rahman Shiri, Jaro Karppinen, Päivi Leino-Arjas, Svetlana Solovieva
Am J Epidemiol 2010 Jan 15;171(2):135-54.
Dr. Ross E. Andersen Carlos J. Crespo Susan J. Bartlett Joan M. Bathon
Obesity Research, Volume11, Issue10 October 2003 Pages 1159-1162.